Pros and Cons of Cloud

Edwin Frondozo
Pros and Cons of Cloud Infrastructure

It’s time to update your company’s server. The question is what kind of equipment to buy and how to migrate all your data and operations. Your next big decision is whether or not to take your business off of your physical server and make a move to the cloud. Cloud computing is a hot topic these days, but is it the right choice for you and your business? Cloud computing has the advantage of being on-demand and completely scalable. But it also has some hidden risks and costs.

Advantages of Cloud:

  • Low initial investment – An application server can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. The initial setup costs of cloud computing are much lower, and in many cases, the provisioning cost is zero.
  • Speed – An on-premise solution can require days to launch and update. Cloud solutions can start in a matter of seconds, completely on demand.
  • Scalability – Traditional servers usually have a capacity plateau. First, you are overcapacity, then ideal capacity, then under capacity, as your business grows. With cloud-based solutions, you can scale up or down as your business grows or your budget tightens.
  • Burst ability – Burst ability is when you need that extra capacity for a short period. The cloud offers this feature, while a dedicated server cannot.
  • No single point of failure – Cloud datacenters have built-in redundancies and backup. If one component fails, other parts, sometimes up to an entire redundant datacenter, take over in milliseconds.
  • Energy Efficient and good for the environment – Cloud data centers are designed with efficiency in mind. Many get rated by the government and not-for-profit agencies for their green technology. Some even buy carbon offsets for a carbon-neutral business model.
  • Available anywhere, anytime, by anyone – The cloud is not tied down to a single location. A cloud-based solution is a great fit for small offices spread throughout. If your business needs to collaborate on a project, cloud-based solutions can benefit you immensely.
  • Increased storage capacity – The cloud offers nearly unlimited storage capacity and much lower costs than buying physical hard drives.

Disadvantages of Cloud:

  •  Unexpected initial migration problems – Your apps must be recoded to work in a virtualized environment. Your data must be reformatted to sync with the SaaS provider formats. Although the costs of starting your move to the cloud may look cheap in the beginning, associated costs can bring that cost right back up.
  • The risk of new government regulations – The government, for better or worse, is always making new laws. If a law is passed that sets strict privacy rules that force a business to keep information in-house, your company may have to take back data from the cloud and account for accuracy. If you have a contract with a cloud provider, you’ll have to break your contract and pay penalties. And you’ll have to buy that new on-premise server after all.
  • The risk is out of your hands – A cloud provider may have sophisticated anti-malware tools, but it’s because they need them. The bad guys, for personal gain or fun, attempt to hack into primary servers often. A private server is unlikely to be a target for hackers. It may be better to risk a problem that can be fixed in-house than to risk an issue out of your hands.
  • Loss of “That Human Touch” – When you have an IT-team, they get to know your needs and anticipate them. There are specific software and hardware requirements that are unique to your company or at least specialized. Having an outsourced solution could lead to you losing the competitive advantage that is your IT team.
  • ROI may turn out to be a dud – While every company is different, many businesses are finding out that the long-term costs of a cloud solution are about the same as purchasing new servers. You have to do the math before moving to the cloud to see if it’s the right move for you.
  • Reliance on an Internet connection – If your business is in the cloud, but you can’t access the cloud, you’re in a lot of trouble. Any problem with your in-house system affects cloud systems as well.  Any problem with the cloud provider’s servers instantly becomes your problem as well.
  • You may be taking money away from local businesses – By definition, the cloud exists in no one location, although the primary data centers are usually in one place. By the same token, most every cloud service offers 24×7 support, but to do that, many cloud providers hire workers outside the US.  If you want to support local businesses and promote local talent, perhaps it’s best if you stay out of the cloud.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) has the business model of an ongoing expense, rather than the big capital investment required by buying a server. IaaS usage is metered and priced on the number of units consumed or times used. As you can see, there is more to consider than price alone.

Adapted and revised originally written by Robert Pepper, VoIP Enthusiast

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